I wish searching google for information and this thread was one of the first that came up under my search terms. I do not have a Tacoma, but I do have an FJ Cruiser which is a similar vehicle with the 4.0L V6, Prado frame, and light truck parts. Sorry for resurrecting an old post but I really wanted to respond to it from a law breakers point of view.
I run Xenon bulbs in my truck, they require ballasts to operate. However, I would never allow them to be called HID lamps in front of an officer. They are Xenons. They differ from Halogens in many ways, but most of all in the gas in the glass vial that allows them to operate. It is Xenon gas. These are Xenon bulbs. The Federal department of transportation DOT certifies bulbs filled with xenon gas, it's just that these particular bulbs don't have a stamp. The stamp certified that certain bulbs meet a minimum requirement for construction and lifespan to receive a DOT label, not exceeding it, which is why some halogens are brighter than other.
Some LEOs seem to believe that simply because something is not explicitly illegal, that that it is implicitly illegal. I believe that is wrong. I bought Xenon bulbs, the kind with the ballasts, not because they were pretty or a different color, but because I truely feel like they help me see better and safer at night. If I was actually ticketed for running these bulbs I would hire a traffic lawyer to attempt to defend myself in traffic court, which would probably end up with it dropped on a technicality anyways.
However, I do have a defense against LEOs arguments of morality on using Xenon bulbs.
§ 547.004. GENERAL OFFENSES. (a) A person commits an
offense that is a misdemeanor if the person operates or moves or, as
an owner, knowingly permits another to operate or move, a vehicle
(1) is unsafe so as to endanger a person;
(2) is not equipped in a manner that complies with the
vehicle equipment standards and requirements established by this
(3) is equipped in a manner prohibited by this
Number 2. All the specifications are a set minimum of functionality. These bulbs do illuminate 150 feet in front of the vehicle. I am complying.
Number 3. These Xenon bulbs are not explicitly prohibited in the traffic code.
§ 547.3215. USE OF FEDERAL STANDARD. Unless specifically
prohibited by this chapter, lighting, reflective devices, and
associated equipment on a vehicle or motor vehicle must comply
(1) the current federal standards in 49 C.F.R. Section
(2) the federal standards in that section in effect,
if any, at the time the vehicle or motor vehicle was manufactured.
The federal standard is a minimum for functionality. These bulbs meet the minimum standards, I can prove it with a photograph comparing the light patterns. I would show you it as evidence of the lights working properly.
HID Kits are illegal to SELL as DOT approved for steet use due to FEDERAL regualtion and none of the kits that use HID bulbs to replace standard halogen bulbs in a halogen housing should have a DOT seal or marking. DOT does not approve or disapprove headlight components. It is strictly up to the manufacturer to certify that they meet the federal DOT specs, which none of them do since the HID light source is a different position, size, and shape than the halogen filament the housing was designed for. The fact it plugs into a standard housing for H1 or H3 halogen bulbs is not relevant.
The DOT sets a minimum specification for which bulbs must reach. That is why they have a DOT stamp. The lenses of your vehicle are also DOT stamped, meaning they meet a minimum specification. Putting a non-DOT stamped bulb in a DOT lens, does not make a DOT lens suddenly illegal. It just means the bulbs hasn't gone through the same DOT certification process to insure minimum specs.
However, bulbs ONLY emit light, they do not aim light, they do not direct light. They emit light. If a bulb emits more light than another bulb, it's irrelevant as the same reflectors and lens are present.
OK contacted DPS and got the following answer.
Under Motor Vehicle Code § 547.3215. USE OF FEDERAL STANDARD. Drivers are required to meet federal standards in 49 CFR Sec 571.108. This makes crrent HID retrofits in Halogen housings NOT meet the beam pattern requirements for replacement lamps. The propper ticket to write is one of the following for those using HIDs in halogen housings.
HEAD LAMP(S) GLARING, NOT ADJUSTED
FAIL TO USE PROPPER HEADLIGHT BEAM
They could not answer if OEM projector retrofits were legal and only reffered to 49 CFR Sec 571.108 and stated if it was legal there is was legal to use. As far as I know OEM retrofits should completely comply with Federal Regualtions. They had to in order to be put in OEM applications to begin with.
The DPS likes to make up it's own laws. I would show a picture of a headlight aim pattern on a wall. Proving my lights are aimed to my vehicle specs. Then I would cite the fact headlight aiming hasn't been a part of state safety inspections since the 90's.
If they wrote me a ticket for Failure to use proper (PROPPER is not a word) I would show them my high beam indicator was off on the side of the road. Then show them that there is difference between my high and low beams. Than ask them in court if I demonstrated the functionality of my beam indicator in court and if I demonstrated the difference of my low and high beams in court. There nothing I can do if an Peace officer lies in court, as it is his word against mine, all I can do is state my intentions in running these bulbs as good. And that from my knowledge of the law, it is not illegal.
A LEO is not a lawyer, and neither am I. It's up to the courts to decide whether a law was actually broken when it's a grey area like this. I have done a lot more research on this than most LEOs, my ballast powered Xenon bulbs are bright, but properly aimed (even though that is irrelevant by Texas state law)
I would encourage peace officers not to waste their time, tax payer's money, and the driver's time, by writing tickets for something that is not explicitly illegal. Theres not a full proof defense but theres not full proof that a law has been broken. DPS tries to cite you for laws you did not break, and then uses their word against yours in court. However, I think most of the time they are concerned with laws that you DID actually break, like speeding and the like, and will only cite you for equipment along with a truly broken law, so you can't defend against all charges.
I've actually kind of lost my enthusiasm for this subject now.
I can give you these tips, if stopped by police specifically for your headlamps.
1. If the LEO stops asks you about them. Refer only to your bulbs as Xenons bulbs, not HIDs.
2. Make a note if the police officer actually checks for a DOT stamp on your bulbs.
3. If a police officer cites you for glare or high beams, demonstrate your high beam indicator functionality (this is the actually safety inspection check item) and if you have Bi-Xenons (and you should) demonstrate that theres a difference between high and low beam. Do not argue with him though. If he declines to observe, you can bring this fact up in court later.
4. If you're going to fight it: write down everything that happens right then and there while it is fresh in your mind. Keep your hazards on, find a piece of paper and pen, and start writing. Write down if he looked for a DOT stamp, write down if he pulled you over for improper equipment, write down he if observed your high beam functionality. Write down where he was when he first detected you. It could be months before you can get a court date, and if you get a traffic attorney, they'll want specifics.
5. Generally if you're out of state, police in other states wont pull you over for improper equipment thats in a grey area. If they do, remember that you are legally inspected as far as Texas is concerned, and that there is no Texas law (yet) specifically prohibiting Xenon bulbs. You can not be expected to know every traffic code everywhere, other states has you respect the laws of your state. Exception being with area that posts signs prohibiting certain things. Like Virginia and radar detectors. Areas with posted noise ordinances versus the use of engine brakes and loud stereos and the like. Never seen a sign prohibiting Xenon bulbs before.
6. These stops waste peoples time. The LEO might not show up for court because he has better things to do. However, you need to be prepared for if his does. You have taken an interest in the law, and have researched it to the point where you believe your actions are not explicitly illegal. You are also using Xenon bulbs for increases safety by being more visible and being able to see the road and obstacles better. A police officer that stops you for 'Improper Beam' or the like, if it's obvious you didn't break that law, he is betting on you not wanting to waste time fighting it, which is a fair point. However, if you waste his time in court, and prove that you were attempting to follow the law as best as possible, he might not issue such useless citations in the future. Even if you lose, you are in the right, you might be able to dispute the judgement if it's against you. It's all just a matter of how much time and money you want to spend to be in the right.